Sunday, August 28, 2011


After a day spent laying tile, I was ready to cut loose, having bought a ticket to see three bands perform a live show at Denver's Hi-Dive.  I was told that The Omens were worth seeing, so on that general comment alone, I made the decision to see them and the two other bands they opened the show for, The Christines and Overcaster.  It was a very worthwile experience because I really enjoyed all three bands.  What a night!

The doors opened at 9 PM and the music began at 10.  At 9:45 the back door opens and the three band members of The Omens burst in hauling their equipment.  Within about 20 minutes they had set up on stage and had begun blowing away the audience with their wall of high energy punk rock music.  I believe they are a Denver band described as:

"The formula is simple: Take neck-snapping guitar riffs, add howls, fat drums and a menacing organ. Mix, then rock. The Omens read the recipe. This foursome takes elements of some of the best early garage rock (Stooges, Question Mark & The Mysterians) marries them to a hedonistic snarl and turns the volume knob past 11."
Westword writes:

The Omens started the show off perfectly with some real rock and roll fire. Now a three piece (or perhaps just for this show), the band didn't seem to really be missing anything, and the parts of the music where the keyboard would have filled out the sound some, the trio just made even more creative use of space and dynamics.

"So Far Down" was so intense, fuzzed-out and unconventionally psychedelic, it was reminiscent of something Spacemen 3 might have done. Before the band played "Alright," some wag in the audience shouted, "Aren't they all called 'Alright'?" But this honestly humorous heckler got called an old nickname by Matt Hunt -- "Q-tip."

This ribbing between friends didn't slow the show down at all and the Omens closed with an even more fuzzy burst of frenzied rock called "New Direction." With the spiky, guitar shimmer along a wave of tremolo with angular rhythms, it kind of did sound like a new direction for the Omens, even though the title did happen to be in the lyrics.

Read this and the rest to follow here:

Download The Omens Hi-Dive show here:

Next up were The Christines, another fine Denver band described as falling into the Alternative / Rock / Shoegaze genre.

Westword says:

The last time the Christines played, it was December 6, 2008 at the hi-dive, around the release of its most recent offering, Here It Comes Again. This time around, it was a real treat to see James Paul, who played guitar with the band when it was based in San Francisco, lay out some incredibly tasty guitar leads in "Aquagirl" and "In My Dead World." The hi-dive stage was pretty full with the six members of the Christines. A lot of bands who have three guitarists don't really use that configuration to its fullest ability, which was no problem here.

Paul, who has spent several years in New York City fronting and playing guitar in the late great post-punk band Undersea Explosion, joined Mike Kirschmann and Eric Lowe on guitars, and it was fascinating to see how the three occupied different tonal ranges in the songwriting. "Forest by the Lake" seemed to have twin leads reminiscent of the Chills or Straight Jacket Fits from "Down in Splendor."

Again, read it all here

Download The Christines Hi-Dive show here:

The last, and best, to take the stage were the Overcasters, and like the previous two shows I took it all in while standing at the edge of the stage right besides Kurt Ottaway's feet, guitar in face, grooving to their hypnotic sound.

They are described as:

Post-Space Blues-Noise Pop Overcasters had to have written a lot of its music on rainy days and in the gloom of winter. But that's what you do when you're in a band in a land with over three hundred days of sunshine a year. You grasp around you at whatever is outside the mundane of everyday existence and if that means working under the cloak of clouds and cold weather, so be it. However, this group isn't a bunch of mope-rockers who came late to the Manchester scene plunder party only to shy away from the precipice of Ian Curtis' tortured psyche on the way to the dance club. The melancholy you'll hear in the music isn't born of anguish and despair. Rather, it is the expression of a preference for deep emotional experiences even if they leave you shaken to the core. Beyond the indigo atmospherics, Overcasters are a rock and roll band. Its defiant spirit and sonic exuberance can be heard across the entirety of its latest album, The Whole Sea is Raging. At turns electrifying, hypnotic and transporting, that record is a great argument for why guitar-based rock isn't dead. Not when it possesses the power to inspire by inviting you into a world more exciting than your everyday life. Not when it is so seething with vitality it brings a quaver to singer Kurt Ottaway's voice. Overcasters make triumphant music for an era when many people feel like the downtrodden underdog and we're all the better for it. - Tom Murphy

Westword writes:

Overcasters closed out the show at midnight. You wouldn't want to be the band that went after acts like the Omens and the Christines unless you were just as good. So no problem. Shane Williams' projections through the fog and after the fog were vibrant and gave the whole scene a psychedelic flavor to match the music -- otherworldly and vibrant yet grounded.

Before "The Kiss of Sister Ray," there was a song where Todd Spriggs had engaged a robust fuzz pedal that made his bass line sound darkly aggressive and it was pleasantly startling as it kicked in throughout a song that sounded like a post-Closer Joy Division gone barmy. One thing that seemed obvious from this show is how Overcasters perform transitions between songs really well in a way most bands don't so that when there are gaps between songs, it's generally on purpose.

But even with this level of premeditation in creating a set, it seemed like everyone in the band was having a good time, with John Nichols, especially, rocking out like he got new batteries or something. For the second to last song, there were heady, sustained drum builds from Erin Tidwell, in what would have been the quiet sections but instead ended up being another way this band experiments with its dynamics, and Kurt Ottaway spun in circles like Debbie Googe herself, caught up in the moment.

Download the Overcasters Hi-Dive show here:
Go see all three bands live, you won't regret it!

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